How To Bring A Brand To Life: 14 Lessons In Effective Storytelling

Industry Insights

Ideas to Inspire

How To Bring A Brand To Life: 14 Lessons In Effective Storytelling

An agency doesn’t just sell a product; it builds a story around the item that gives it a life of its own. Effective storytelling is one of a marketer’s most critical skills, and while practice can help you improve your ability to craft a compelling narrative, learning from the masters is an important part of excelling at any art.

Forbes Agency Council

The key is to help audience members see themselves as protagonists in your brand story. Below, 14 experts from Forbes Agency Council discuss how lessons they’ve learned about storytelling have informed their approach to the process.

1. Be Yourself

In other words, remain authentic. I realize this may sound as though I have personified the brand, and that was purposeful. Brands need to have their own identities, and the story behind each brand has to not only be believable, but also true. If a brand is shrouded by mistruths or misleading claims, it will likely not survive, and it will definitely not thrive. – Dave Wendland, Hamacher Resource Group

2. Aim To Inspire And Motivate

Stories should inspire and motivate. A story simplifies complex messages and helps a viewer or listener feel more connected. We have seen a 20% to 30% increase in brand engagement through storytelling marketing. – Mandeep Singh, SEO Discovery Pvt Ltd.

3. Make Sure The Timing Is Right

It doesn’t matter how good a story is, if the timing is wrong, especially in times of turmoil, it will come across as tone-deaf. Keep in mind what is going on in the world and assess whether it will impact how people respond to your message. If you don’t, you run the risk of losing the opportunity—and your audience—completely. – Valerie Chan, Plat4orm PR

4. Incorporate Trust Signals

When telling a story, it’s important to send trust signals that communicate your story’s authenticity. That’s what makes your narrative relatable and believable to buyers. Trust signals include customer testimonials, verification of your story by third-party experts or data and many other forms of validation. Your story simply won’t have the impact you’re seeking if people don’t believe it. – Scott Baradell, Idea Grove

5. Focus On Creating An Emotion

Great storytelling is focused around creating an emotion, and brands need storytelling to create an action toward purchase, sharing, awareness or recall. During the creative process, make sure that the desired action is the focus of the creative, then test and measure prior to launch. Creating a great story without a desired response in mind will usually be a waste of time, resources and money. – Brian Meert, AdvertiseMint

6. Make It Compelling For The Audience

The most valuable lesson I have learned about storytelling is that, when it is done well, it makes others want to retell the story. The story can’t be about the person telling it; the story should be compelling for the audience. If the audience members (employees, customers, etc.) are moved, they will carry the story on to others. – Chris Wallace, InnerView Group

7. Remember That Great Stories Are True

Over the years, we’ve learned that understanding what matters, combined with being honest about what you can deliver, creates brand value. The day a brand starts to follow trends that don’t align with it or makes changes to make customers happy is the day its story starts to become hollow. And, sadly, the brand begins to die. – Bo Bothe, BrandExtract, LLC

8. Reflect Your Brand’s Purpose And Values

Stories that are disconnected from purpose and values will backfire because they won’t be authentic or believable. But when an audience sees a clear connection between your story, values and purpose, the storytelling will be more credible, and your audience will feel an emotional connection with your brand. – Don Scales, Investis Digital

9. Be A Problem-Solver Rather Than An Expert

Being a problem-solver rather than an expert has paid off immensely. People are not interested in digging through archives of information. Tell the story, provide immediate value and help with a challenge your prospect is facing. It’s no different with brand marketing. Position your brand to serve your customers, focusing heavily on creating a buyer-centric experience. – Melissa Chang, PureB2B

10. Don’t Go Out Of Your Way To Reinvent The Wheel

Stories have conventions, and audiences are familiar with those conventions because we have been telling each other stories for thousands of years. Also, high production values are nice to have, but they won’t matter if your narrative is not compelling or emotionally engaging. The content matters much more than the sheen. – Tripp Donnelly, REQ

11. Immerse Yourself In Your Client’s World

The best way to be successful as a storytelling agency is to immerse yourself in your client’s world before choosing words to create their narrative. I’ve spent time on the campuses of education clients, sat in classrooms and been a fly on the wall at staff meetings, and those experiences have helped me understand what truly makes my clients’ hearts beat. – Lynne Golodner, Your People LLC

12. Don’t Make The Brand The Hero

Do you know the most common mistake some brands still make? They make the brand the hero of the story: “Our product does XYZ. It’s amazing; look how many people use it.” This is the wrong approach. What they want to do instead is put the limelight on the potential buyer: “You have XYZ problems, and here’s how you can solve them using our product.” – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS

13. Provide Value Or Entertainment

When it comes to effective storytelling, a brand needs to realize that, before selling to an audience, it must provide one of two things: value or entertainment. The most valuable lesson I learned about storytelling is to make sure we create a strong foundation for our brand’s persona and the right framing prior to pushing our content. A strong plan will create a strong result. – Garrett Atkins, VIE Media

14. Tell Stories Of Real People

Telling stories of real people whose lives have been positively impacted by a brand or product continues to be one of the most authentic ways to bring a brand to life and reach consumers on an emotional level. Consumers can relate to another consumer’s story and see for themselves how a brand can also enhance their own lives. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne LLC

Drop us a note to explore how You can future proof your brand and business